Jul 262015
 

Are inkjet-printed papers a good option for your paper-crafting projects? When I first began crafting handmade books, I used only commercial papers from scrapbooking stores because I assumed they are more colorfast and water-resistant. I have changed my mind, however, and am gradually printing more papers from digital designs, especially for custom orders that involve very specific color-and-design requests. I simply don’t have time to sift through hundreds of individual papers in my storage bins. Running all over town to find the perfect paper option is not a good use of time, and it can be a waste of car fuel, too.

I don’t want anyone to think that I am pushing inkjet-printed papers over commercial ones—talented graphic artists design both types—but when it comes to storage space, I can store thousands of digital papers on a flash drive no bigger than my thumb, as opposed to a stack of paper trays containing hundreds of papers that stand almost as tall as I am. It is also easier and faster to comb through a digital file system to locate specific papers than it is to find physical ones.

The cost of digitally-designed papers might be considered to be cheaper than the cost of commercially-printed papers. For example, a digital paper pack of 10 papers might cost you $3 to $5, while an individual sheet of designer paper typically runs a dollar. Some might argue that the cost of printer ink mitigates the advantage of using digital files that can be re-used to print hundreds of papers, but that’s not an issue I am addressing in this post.

The papers designs shown above were generated digitally and printed on an inkjet printer.

The papers designs shown above were generated digitally and printed on an inkjet printer.

So, how colorfast and water-resistant are papers that are printed on your home inkjet printer? The answer is that it depends on the type of ink your printer uses. Inkjet printers use either pigment ink or dye ink. According to InkGuides.com, pigment ink sits on top of the paper instead of being absorbed into it, and is water-fast in most instances. It dries fast, has a long life, and the colors tend not to fade. This is the type of ink usually found in the cartridges used by color inkjet printers. Dye ink, on the other hand, is used more often in monochrome printers. Colors are available in a wide range, and they are both brilliant and high-contrast.

The age of your inkjet printer can also be a factor that affects the quality of your inkjet-printed papers. A printer that is 10 years old, for example, prints at a lower resolution, may have less water-resistant ink, and may use ink cartridges whose ink fades more quickly. This is because inkjet technology has improved over the years.

“Intensive research and development is continuously done in printer inks,” says InkGuides.com in its article, Ink Types used in Inkjet Cartridges, “which mean that both dye and pigment inks are steadily becoming better in their weak areas.”

There are great inkjet printers that are commonly available from HP, Epson, Canon and other manufacturers in most electronics or office supply stores. My experience is mostly with HP printers, so that’s the ink I’m discussing in this post. HP’s Vivera Photo-versatile inks are designed to be used with HP Photosmart, select HP Deskjet printers and all-in-one products. According to HP, “When combined with HP photo papers, HP Vivera Photo-versatile inks deliver vibrant prints that resist fading for generations. In addition, most HP Vivera Photo-versatile inks are designed to deliver great everyday plain paper printing for documents, e-mail, web pages, and more.” The statistics about the durability of this ink—up to 108 years versus 17 to 40 years for lab-processed photos—make for interesting reading. Visit HP Vivera Inks: Brilliant, Enduring Color for more details.

Today's inkjet printers typically use four to twelve ink cartridges.

Today’s inkjet printers typically use four to twelve ink cartridges.

No printed papers, of course, will survive poor storage conditions: exposure to temperature extremes, sun, wind, water, and so on. For both commercially-printed papers and inkjet-printed papers, you have to employ common sense when you choose your paper storage system.

There is another factor that determines how durable ink is, and that is the type of paper you use. Both commercially printed paper and plain card stock are coated, which means that the ink you print on them will be more water-resistant and fade-resistant than if you printed, for example, on absorbent watercolor paper or paper towels. These latter types of paper products can produce interesting, beautiful results—but if you want the ink to last, you’ll probably have to coat your finished project with some kind of sealant. Some artists like to use spray sealants, but because of many sprays’ toxicity and odor, I prefer to use a micro glaze called Tim Holtz® Distress Micro Glaze™. Although it’s not absolutely necessary to use this type of product on commercially-printed or inkjet-printed papers, I do so because it adds an extra layer of water-resistance to my handmade book covers.

Tim Holtz Distress MIcro GlazeIn Bookbinding Tips: Protecting Covers, Jennifer of Sea Lemon on YouTube describes how she likes to use a clear spray varnish to protect her work. It’s really up to you. If you fast-forward to 1 minute and 50 seconds in her video, she discusses the difference between commercially-printed papers and inkjet-printed papers.

In the final analysis, if you’re low on paper storage space, or you need to keep a wide range of papers available on short notice for custom orders, you may wish to consider using digital papers that you can print yourself as you need them.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Jul 222015
 

I haven’t done a blog giveaway in a while, and it’s definitely time to do so! If you’re interested in cutting dies, I’ll be doing a random drawing for one Love Locket die set by Spellbinders® Shapeabilities® Die D-Lites. Read through to the end of this post to learn how you can use the die set, and how to qualify for the giveaway.

If you have already been using Spellbinders dies, then you know that they can be used multiple ways. You can use them to cut shapes, emboss detail into cut shapes, or stencil through the die template. The three-piece Love Locket die set includes a locket, key, and locket background.

Spellbinders Love Locket

One of the traditional ways to use this die set is for a greeting card honoring Valentine’s Day, a wedding, or an anniversary. That’s what Sheri of My Sheri Cards did with the heart-shaped locket-and-key dies, cutting them from gold and silver card stock, respectively. Then she paired these design elements with a Spellbinders A2 Curved Borders One die cut for a truly spectacular effect. You can read about her process in her post, MY SHERI CRAFTS CHALLENGE #126 – Valentine.

Photo courtesy of My Sheri Cards

Photo courtesy of My Sheri Cards

Although the gorgeous gold-and-white card below is intended as a wedding card, I think it would work equally well as a birthday or congratulatory card. Erika of Snappy Crafts describes how she layered Spellbinders® M-Bossabilities™ Framed Petite Labels, Nestabilities® Labels Twenty-One, and Shapeabilities® Fancy Tags Two, and then combined these effects with the heart-shaped lock-and-key dies. To achieve the distressed gold-and-white striped background, Erika coated the embossing folder with gold ink before running it through her Spellbinders® Grand Calibur machine. For more details, read her post, Weddings…..Spellbinder style.

Photo courtesy of Snappy Crafts

Photo courtesy of Snappy Crafts

Chrissy of Chrissyscardland created an adorable birthday card with the locket and key dies in A BIRFDAY DRAGON WITH MAKE IT MONDAY. Using her Faber-Castell colored pencils, Chrissy colored a digital dragon image designed by Rick St. Dennis. She cut out some leaves using a Couture Creations die, and combined these and the Spellbinders® Love Locket dies with the illustration.

Photo courtesy of Chrissyscardland

Photo courtesy of Chrissyscardland

To enter the giveaway for the Love Locket die set, please indicate in the comments below how you are following me: by e-mail (see side bar to subscribe), on Facebook, Google or Pinterest, or some other method. I will announce the winner next week Friday, July 31st, assuming there are at least five entries. If necessary, the giveaway will be extended.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Jul 202015
 

In a previous post, The lure of coloring activity books for adults, I discussed what now appears to be a widespread trend among the bookstores: coloring books for adults.

“I just bought one for my wife’s birthday,” said the bookstore clerk Saturday afternoon, when he ran my credit card through the register for a copy of Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden: 20 Postcards.

Secret Garden 20 Postcards

He said that at one point his store had run low on certain titles of adult coloring books, but that publishers had finally “caught on” to the trend and bookstores everywhere are now well stocked. That certainly appeared to be true this weekend, when everywhere I looked, I saw displays of the books. I spotted them in the entryway, between the double sets of doors, on a table inside the store, and on their normal space on a bookshelf, in addition to the shelves built into the counter of the information kiosk. The store may as well have posted a billboard announcing, “Profit Leaders on Display Here.”

In any event, I was glad to pick up my little book of pre-printed post cards, simply waiting for color to be splashed on them.

Although it doesn’t cost much to purchase a coloring book and a set of 12 colored pencils, I acknowledge that for some people, their interest may wane after they color a page or two. Or, possibly, you don’t want to hand over an entire book to your kids that you think might interest them for less than a page. A good solution might be to take advantage of the many free pages you can print for yourself, beginning with the ones on this list from the Web:

A collection of adult coloring printables that continually grows can be found on Pinterest. If you search for “adult coloring therapy free inexpensive printables,” for example, here’s a screenshot of what you’ll find.

Screenshot of Pinterest printables

Let me know which sites appeal to you most. I was surprised to see how much is out there, simply waiting for your printer to take charge. In the comments below, feel free to share where you have discovered additional free coloring book printables for adults.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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